A Change of Guard

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Friday 31 July 2009


Pattaya, July 30 (PDN): as part of the resurrected Silk Route Project, key countries en route are pledged to help their less privileged neighbours develop their road and rail networks. Cambodia currently qualifies and is to be recipient of a Bt1.4 billion soft loan from the Thai government to improve Highway Route 68 from Kralanh to Samrong and O-Smach. This highway is located the subsection designated GMS (Greater Mekong Subregion), connecting SW Cambodia to Eastern Thailand.
On July 28, the Thai Cabinet approved the Bt1.4 billion loan, which was originally proposed in 2008, in the form of a ‘soft loan’ whereby Cambodia will pay 1.5% annual interest, with a grace period for the first 10 years, and will begin repaying the principal after 2019. PM Abhisit Vejjajiva is also interested in strengthening and expanding existing bilateral co-operation, especially by opening more border crossings with Cambodia to boost cross border trade. Previously, the Thai government provided another soft loan of Bt1088 for the improvement of Route 48, the 150 km-long highway betwen Koh Kong- and Sre Ambel, including four bridges en route. Route 48 is also a key tourist route, the improvement of which will boost trade, speed intercommunication and strengthen social networking ties.
The far eastern section of the Silk Route Project links China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand by road and rail. The intention is to significantly reduce trade barriers and facilitate fast transit across borders so that some of the fabled wealth of th original Silk Road may return to stimulate especially the depressed economies of the region, notably Cambodia and Laos, as well as bringing greater prosperity to the others.

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